photo barsotti_zps4bc82bae.jpg
My favorite New Yorker cartoon, by Charles Barsotti.

The New Yorker recently made the full length versions of many of its articles available to all on before introducing a paywall this fall, which is at once magnanimous, historic, and TOTALLY OVERWHELMING. I’d like to offer 13 of my favorite New Yorker articles of the last ten years, for your reading or printing-and-saving enjoyment. Consider it a little birthday present (today’s my birthday) from my inner geek to yours.

The Real Work
Modern magic and the meaning of life.

Adam Gopnik
March 17, 2008

A short course on magic in the modern day. An absolute must read.

Royal Flush
How Roger Thomas redesigned Vegas.

Jonah Lehrer
March 26, 2012

Profile of the designer for the Wynn properties in Las Vegas. He’s a great character, and I enjoyed learning about practical design for a city with so much excess and eccentricity — could your flowerbeds withstand the constant weight of passed-out drunks?

The God of Gamblers
Why Las Vegas is moving to Macau.

Evan Osnos
April 9, 2012

A foray into the business of money in Macau. It makes Las Vegas look like a daycare center.

Musical Gold
Can three ambitious siblings turn old violins into a new investment strategy?

Rebecca Mead
July 28, 2014

Profile of a family of musicians that is seeking to persuade the extremely wealthy into collecting fine musical instruments, the way one might invest in art, real estate, or gold. Mead writes, “The Carpenters have an air of fictional implausibility, as if they had been imagined into being by Wes Anderson.” The three adult siblings live together in a two bedroom apartment in the Plaza Hotel, handling millions of dollars a year in Stradivari violins and their forebears, and their contemporaries all seem to hate them.

Tasmanian Devil
A master gambler and his high-stakes museum.

Richard Flanagan
January 31, 2013

One of the world’s most infamous gamblers builds a modern art museum on a small Tasmanian island that is quickly sinking due to rising water levels. To give you an idea — Flanagan reports, “It’s not an attempt at immortality, as he frankly admits that his collection may be deemed worthless in another decade. It is a theatre of strange enchantments: from a wall of a hundred and fifty-one sculptures of women’s vaginas to racks of rotting cow carcasses; a waterfall, the droplets of which form words from the most-Googled headlines of the day; the remains of a suicide bomber cast in chocolate; a grossly fattened red Porsche; a lavatory in which, through a system of mirrors and binoculars, you can view your own anus; X-ray images of rats carrying crucifixes; a library of blank books; cuneiform tablets; and stone blocks from the Hiroshima railway station, which was destroyed in the atom bombing. Its most loathed exhibit is also one of its most popular: Wim Delvoye’s ‘Cloaca Professional,’ a large, reeking machine that replicates the human digestive system, turning food into feces, which it excretes daily.”

We Are Alive
Bruce Springsteen at sixty-two.

David Remnick
July 30, 2012

Profile of Bruce Springsteen. He seems almost unreal. Almost.

True Grits
In Charleston, a quest to revive authentic Southern cooking.

Burkhard Bilger
October 31, 2011

A lot has been written about Charleston chef Sean Brock, but nowhere is it said as frankly or written more beautifully than in this piece. I felt as though I was there, at the restaurants, in the rice fields. The piece also covers the history of agriculture in the south in the twentieth century and the effort to bring back nearly-extinct crops, which is as timely as ever as industrial farming and food production become more unsustainable than ever.

Burger Queen
April Bloomfield’s gastropub revolution.

Lauren Collins
November 22, 2010

Profile of an unlikely star in the food world. Collins writes, “Bloomfield, who once worked cleaning hotel rooms, is not above drudgery. She chops onions like a scullery maid. Even her trash is pristine: one night, I watched her fish around in a compost can before finally extracting a rubber band. ‘Consistency is the No. 1 priority for me,’ she says, over and over.”

Walking Through Walls
Marina Abramović’s performance art.

Judith Thurman
March 8, 2010

Profile of the performance artist Marina Abramović, replete with vulnerabilities, hypocrisies, hopes, and fears.

Late Bloomers
Why do we equate genius with precocity?

Malcolm Gladwell
October 20, 2008

My favorite piece by Malcolm Gladwell, if only because it keeps me optimistic about my own stalling writing career. Profiles a number of people whose success could only come later in life and posits that maybe it’s better that way for a lot of us.

Eight Days
The battle to save the American financial system.

September 21, 2009

Carve out a couple of hours to read this one and prepare to seethe. It’s a detailed chronology of the week in September, 2008 when the shit hit the proverbial fan on Wall Street. It’s interesting and infuriating and well worth your time six years later.

The Lonesome Trail
Cindy McCain’s nontraditional campaign.

Ariel Levy
September 15, 2008

A bit dated, but a fascinating profile of a subversive Cindy McCain. I heard Levy speak about this piece at the New Yorker Festival that year, and I was completely shaken.

Anything by David Sedaris

Just type “David Sedaris” into that search field and read something or everything. Be prepared to read something then everything.